What is it about gluten, why so many people feel compelled to banish it from their diet? “Gluten Free” is the new hot label that seems to be placed on the packages of every grocery item even right down to the most obscure chewy candy or fruit snack. Items baring the infamous “Gluten Free” label have grossed an estimated $10 billion in sales in 2014 and it is estimated to reach approximately $15 billion by the end of 2016. Gluten free has become a game changer in the food industry creating soaring profit margins for companies choosing to participate in this phenomenon.
What is gluten anyway?
Gluten is a protein found in certain grains. It is mainly found in wheat but can also be found in rye, barley, and spelt. Gluten allows dough to rise, its that sticky stuff that binds things together, making yummy goodies easy to bake.
There are a few experts that say that sensitivity and intolerance to gluten are usually misdiagnosed. Gluten sensitivity can disguise itself as skin disorders, digestive disorders, and even some autoimmune diseases. Celiac disease, also related to gluten sensitivity responds differently. When people with celiac disease consume foods containing gluten, their immune systems forms antibodies that attack the intestinal lining and intestinal villi. Intestinal villi are key to the bodies absorption of nutrients and with this disruption, one may become malnourished no matter how much food is taken in. People with gluten intolerance will typically experience symptoms such as cramps, gas and diarrhea that follow soon after consumption.
As research continues to develop, the relatively new concept of having gluten free options are beneficial for those with gluten intolerance and sensitivity. A gluten free diet is often perceived as a healthy way of eating, however, for those who do not have these intolerances, a person may end up lacking important vitamins, minerals and fibre.
What is the takeaway?
- How do you know that you are gluten intolerant, sensitive or you have celiac disease? There is no known official test. One of the best methods in identifying your sensitivity is thorough the process of elimination. Remove gluten/wheat out of your diet for a period of 1-2 weeks and observe if there is a difference with how you feel.
- Gluten intolerance or sensitivity doesn’t happen to everyone. If you do not display any of the above symptoms then you can most likely allow gluten/wheat (whole grains) to remain in your diet.
Always remember, before incorporating any changes to your diet, consult with your physician first.